Blackwood happy to build on good form
West Indies batsman Jermaine Blackwood, who scored 63 on debut against New Zealand in the second Test, said the work he had put in at the Sagicor High Performance Centre had helped him carry his recent run of form into Test cricket. Blackwood's fifty on the third day helped West Indies stretch their first-innings lead to 239 runs and the batsman stitched useful partnerships with Shivnarine Chanderpaul and captain Denesh Ramdin.
Blackwood was one of the two batsmen picked by the West Indies selectors for the second Test and has enjoyed a consistent run of form in the last couple of months, hitting first-class hundreds in three successive games, including two for the High Performance Centre against the touring Bangladesh A side.
"The difference is that I started to bat more," he said. "I was batting fewer balls and getting out in the first half hour. I started going to the nets, started to leave alone a lot of balls and bat for hours. My natural game is to score fast but I have to adapt to these conditions, this is Test cricket.
"The High Performance Centre has helped a lot of guys. Every day I had to work on my game and every day I had to train. The coaches there are brilliant. I would work on my game every day, bat for hours, leave alone a lot of balls continue to play straight and keep my shape. It really helped me a lot."
Blackwood came in to bat at the fall of Kemar Roach's wicket on the third day and consolidated West Indies lead with a 47-run, eighth-wicket stand with Chanderpaul. Facing his second over, Blackwood lofted Trent Boult for a six over long-on after a ripper off the previous delivery had him in trouble. He was dropped on the score of 11 but settled down as the New Zealand spinners bowled a few easy deliveries. He stated that the big lead was not a factor in the way he played his innings.
"I thought right through that I'd play each ball on merit and when a ball is there to be hit, I hit it and I try to stay positive and try to get some singles," he said. "It's always how I bat. It's not about coming in with a 100-lead or a 200-lead. It doesn't make a difference. I still have to go out there and get the job done. You put in your hard work, play each one on its merit and bat for as long as possible."
Although they finished the day with a lead of 166, Blackwood said West Indies would have liked to add another fifty runs to their first-innings score. He also said the pitch was slowing down and could assist the spinners over the last two days.
"The pitch is a bit on the slower side," he said. "There's something in it for the spinners. If the pace bowlers bowl in the right areas, they can get a good result off the pitch, but it's a bit slow."